TINA – The Tina Turner Musical: Aldwych Theatre, London
Reviewed 9th May 2019
One of the world’s best selling artists of all time, Tina Turner is adored by millions. TINA – The Tina Turner Musical tells the story of her life from her humbling beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee to her glittering career as the Queen of Rock’n’Roll. This musical claims to reveal ‘the untold story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender and race.’ Featuring Tina Turner’s much loved songs, this biographical musical is written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd.
Full of power, passion and emotion this musical is not only a showcase of superb vocal talent but of clever storytelling. More than just a jukebox musical TINA reinvents Tina Turner’s hits and cleverly utilises them to become a soundtrack to her life. The original arrangements of her hit songs work brilliantly to allow the show to move away from the risk of becoming a ‘karaoke‘ musical and enables the audience to go on a journey with a young Anna Mae from Nutbush on her way to becoming the legendary Tina Turner.
Nkeki Obi-Melekwe demonstrates outstanding singing talent throughout the many vocally taxing songs. Her growls, riffs and vocal strength is phenomenal as she truly embodies Tina Turner. But what makes her performance really stand out is her commitment to the character, the heartfelt emotion and passion she displays at all times. TINA does not skim over the traumatic events in Tina Turner’s life and through the well-directed scenes the audience start to get a hard-hitting, honest view into Tina’s turbulent life. Ashley Zhangazha’s menacing portrayal of Ike Turner is a brilliant contrast to the hopeful, charming Anna Mae. Again, his commitment to the character stands out throughout the show from the very smallest of details. Ike’s power driven, abusive behaviour is performed incredibly through the relationship between Ashley and Nkeki and the realistic fight direction by Kate Waters is performed convincingly to great benefit. All of the cast excel onstage. Whilst the main focus is on Nkeki Obi-Melekwe there are certainly no weak links and each member of the cast play multiple roles with apparent ease.
The raked stage, featuring a well used revolve, designed by Mark Thompson is utilised well throughout with the projections adding an extra element. The smooth transition between scenes and set pieces adds to the quick pace of the show. Lighting, designed by Bruno Poet, further adds to the show and is especially effective during some of the more poignant moments in the show. Anthony Van Laast’s energetic choreography is reminiscent of the era and of Tina’s statement style of dancing as are the detailed costumes by Mark Thompson.
The direction by Phyllida Lloyd allows the audience to understand the huge journey that Tina Turner has gone through in her life and the clever full circle effect of the show really highlights the struggles that she has had to overcome to be heard and valued. Her life has not been easy and TINA does well to show both the good and the bad and not gloss over the turmoil in Tina’s life. Full of emotion, passion and stunning music this show blows other jukebox or biographical musicals out of the water. Definitely worth a visit. Catch TINA – The Tina Turner Musical now to have ‘simply the best’ night!
This review was originally written for London Box Office. For information about shows and discounts please visit their website here.
TINA – The Tina Tuner Musical is playing at the Aldwych Theatre currently until January 2020. For more information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan